Reputations at Westmont: You have one, so what?
Views 15 | Time to read: 3 minutes | Uploaded: 2 - 6 - 2019 | By: Jalin Coert
True story: my first semester at Westmont, I had my sociology professor tell me that, based on my behavior in class and what they knew about me, they believed I could soon be someone writing the sociology books. In response, I shot a couple of finger-guns at her. And just like that, I had burst the lovely reputation I had established. Benjamin Franklin said, “It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.”
We attend a college with the slogan “where everyone knows your name,” and that creates a daily conundrum: should we take the reputations of others at face value? On one hand, you’re surrounded by peers who observe almost every move you make. They know your behavior in class, if you’re a front-row-sitter or a back-of-the-class quitter; they know who can be expected in the DC at certain times; they know who you’re dating or “just friends” with (if you think they don’t, you’re wrong). With all this knowledge of the little details in your life, it makes some sense that your peers possess the ability to socially construct your reputation.
On the other hand, these fellow students exist in the same bubble as you, and that’s when perspective on life can get a bit… warped. Westmont holds standards that don’t always match with the rest of the world. This is problematic when you gain a bad reputation that wouldn’t exist anywhere else. So, that guy or girl who the campus sees as a “serial dater” because they went on two dates, with different people, over the span of two weeks, and didn’t propose a committed relationship right after their McConnell’s melted is now stuck having to defend that reputation to some lovely person they met off campus who doesn’t know the strange Westmont dating culture that we exist in.
Dating is just one example of Westmont culture molding reputations that are not fair to transfer off campus. Christian morals is another. In the eyes of Westmont culture, if you aren’t wearing Birkenstocks, Patagonia, and holding a leather- bound Bible on Sundays, you may not be the right type of Christian. Those molding your reputation are living alongside you on a small campus where some standards and expectations are not equivalent to the real world. Regardless, those reputations carry over, including the bad.
The upside of gaining a reputation at Westmont is this college has the ability to network with pretty much anyone; find a good reputation among the right people, like professors and alumni, and suddenly everyone knowing your name isn’t too bad ,and actually can benefit you in the grown-up world.
Reputations at Westmont are a tricky thing: they’re easy to make, but difficult to defend, both the good and the bad. They’re made among peers within the confines of skewed standards, and that needs to be kept in mind next time a reputation is handed out.